EDGE HILL JUNIOR SCHOOL
We believe that our school provides a good education for all our children, and that the headteacher and other staff work very hard to build positive relationships with all parents. However, the school is obliged to have procedures in place in case there are complaints by parents. The following policy sets out the procedure that the school follows in such cases.
If any parent is unhappy with the education that their child is receiving, or has any concern relating to the school, we encourage that person to talk to the child’s class teacher immediately.
We deal with all complaints in accordance with procedures set out by the LEA. If the school cannot resolve any complaint itself, those concerned can ask the LEA to intervene.
All parents have the right, as a last resort, to appeal to the Secretary of State for Education, if they still feel that their complaint has not been properly addressed.
Aims and objectives
Our school aims to be fair, open and honest when dealing with any complaint. We give careful consideration to all complaints and deal with them as swiftly as possible. We aim to resolve any complaint through dialogue and mutual understanding and, in all cases, we put the interests of the child above all other issues. We will work to provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed, and then resolved.
The complaints process
If a parent is concerned about anything to do with the education that we are providing at our school, they should, in the first instance, discuss the matter with their child’s class teacher. Most matters of concern can be dealt with in this way. All teachers work very hard to ensure that each child is happy at school, and is making good progress; they always want to know if there is a problem, so that they can take action before the problem seriously affects the child’s progress.
Where a parent feels that a situation has not been resolved through contact with the class teacher, or that their concern is of a sufficiently serious nature, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the Headteacher or member of the Senior Leadership Team (If the Headteacher is unavailable). The SLT and headteacher considers any such complaint very seriously and investigates each case thoroughly. Most complaints are normally resolved at this stage.
Should a parent have a complaint about the headteacher, or the way in which they have handled a complaint against a member of staff i.e. if a parent is unhappy with the outcome, s/he can make a formal complaint, as outlined below.
A formal complaint should be made to the Governing Body (GB). This complaint must be made in writing, stating the nature of the complaint and how the school has handled it so far. The parent should send this written complaint to the Chair of Governors (CofG) via the School Office.
When considering a complaint the CofG may wish to seek technical or procedural advice from Officers of the Staffordshire Local Authority Education Service on the appropriate course of action to be taken.
The GB must consider all written complaints within three weeks of receipt (excluding holidays). It may arrange a meeting to discuss the complaint, and will invite the person making it to attend the meeting, so that s/he can explain her complaint in more detail if they wish to. The school will give the complainant at least three days’ notice of the meeting.
Membership of the Complaints Committee should include three or five governors. Members should be independent and impartial; the Headteacher should not be a member. No Governor may sit on the panel if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or the circumstances surrounding it.
The aim of the investigation will always be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant.
The complainant will be invited if they wish to make an oral presentation purely to supplement the written complaint.
At any interview in connection with the complaint the complainant may be accompanied, if desired, by a friend, family member or interpreter.
If the complaint is about a member of staff they will be accorded the same rights as parents.
When the complaint has been fully investigated and considered the Clerk/CofG shall notify the complainant and the Chief Education Officer (if appropriate) of the outcome in writing giving an explanation of the conclusion, the reasons for it, and any action taken or proposed to be taken, including details of any request made to those complained against to take particular actions to resolve the complaint and the further recourse available if appropriate.
After hearing all the evidence, the Governors consider their decision and inform the parent about it in writing.
If the investigation upholds the complaint it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:
an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better;
an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint.
An admission that the school could have handled the situation better is not the same as an admission of guilt.
However, it has to be recognised the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the governors do not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations which will satisfy the complainant that his/her complaint has been taken seriously.
Parents do not have a general right of appeal should they disagree with the governors’ decision. They may, however, raise the matter with the Staffordshire Local Authority Education Service or the Secretary of State if they consider the complaint wasn’t investigated properly and fairly. If the Governors have followed a proper procedure and considered the complaint reasonably, neither the Staffordshire Local Authority Education Service nor the Secretary of State can reverse their decision.
This notification brings the complaint to the Governing Body to a conclusion.
Formal Complaint to the LA
This formal stage shall be used if either:-
a) the complainant has complained formally to the Governing Body, is not
satisfied with the outcome, and wishes to complain to the LA; or
b) the complaint relates to something which is solely the responsibility of the
LA and a complaint to the Governing Body would therefore not be
The complainant should set out the complaint in writing and send it to the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families & Communities. This written notification should make clear exactly what the complaint is and should also make it clear that it is to be formally considered under these arrangements. The Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families & Communities WILL acknowledge receipt of the complaint.
The Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families & Communities shall identify urgent complaints and arrange for them to be dealt with as a priority.
* Note: Reference to the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families & Communities in the document normally means an Officer designated by them.
If properly followed, our Complaints Procedure will limit the number of complaints that become protracted. However, there will be occasions when, despite all stages of the procedure having been followed, the complainant remains dissatisfied. If the complainant tries to reopen the same issue, the CofG, is able to inform them in writing that the procedure has been exhausted and that the matter is now closed. (See Appendix 1)
Complaints by Staff
If a member of staff has a complaint against a line manager or senior member of staff the complaint should be brought to the attention of the Headteacher:
Informally. At this stage the Headteacher will try to resolve the problem
In writing. Detailing the complaint and the grievance the member of staff has.
The Headteacher will consider the complaint and take appropriate action in accordance with school policy and LA guidance. Using pro-forma
If the complaint is about the Headteacher the member of staff should contact the Chair of governors in writing.
Monitoring and review
The Governors monitor the complaints procedure, in order to ensure that all complaints are handled properly. The headteacher logs all written complaints received by the school and records how they were resolved. Governors examine this log during the autumn term governors meeting.
Governors take into account any local or national decisions that affect the complaints process, and make any modifications necessary to this policy. This policy is available to all parents, so that they can be properly informed about the complaints process.
Date: April 2016
Persistent or Vexatious Complaints
You may remain dissatisfied despite all the procedures having been followed and reasonable responses being provided. It may be the case that it is not possible to resolve all your concerns and meet all your wishes. Sometimes it is preferable to ‘agree to disagree’ and move on.
If you continue to make representations to the school or continue correspondence into the same issues, the Governing Body reserves the right to inform you, in writing, that the appropriate procedures have all been followed, that all reasonable actions have been taken to try to resolve the issue and that the matter is now closed.
Dealing with Persistent and/or Vexatious Complaints
A vexatious or persistent complainant is not someone who raises legitimate concerns or criticisms of a complaints procedure as it progresses, for example, with regard to timescales, nor are they someone who is unhappy with the outcome of a complaint and are therefore seeking to challenge it.
Occasionally however there may be situations where the head teacher and/or governing body have done all they can to resolve matters, and it is therefore appropriate to consider closing a complaint as it has been on-going for some time. Alternatively, there may be some circumstances in which there will be a valid reason for not following the full complaints process. Closing complaints may be appropriate in particular where responding to continual communications from a complainant is detracting from the school’s responsibility to look after the interests of all the children in its care.
The Governing Body therefore reserves the right to close complaints from those who demonstrate any of the following behaviours:
frequently complaining about a variety of different matters, or the same issue through a number of different channels in an obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific and/or repetitious manner;
seeking unrealistic outcomes relative to the issue being raised, and stating that their intention is to persist until that outcome is achieved;
insisting upon pursuing valid complaints in an unreasonable manner;
persistently making the same complaint with minor differences but never accepting the outcome of any investigation into their complaint;
challenging a historical decision/action which cannot be changed;
contacting the school frequently in a lengthy and/or complicated way;
behaving aggressively and provocatively towards the school and individual members of staff;
changing aspects of the complaint or the desired outcome part way through the investigation and/or after the investigation is completed and a conclusion has been reached;
refusing to co-operate with the investigation process;
insisting on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the adopted procedure or with good practice;
making what appear to be groundless complaints about the staff dealing with the complaint, and seeking to have them replaced by someone more senior or with a person the complainant names;
refusing to accept information provided, for no justifiable reason;
making statements the complainant knows are not true or persuading others to do so;
supplying manufactured ‘evidence’ or other information the complainant knows is incorrect;
raising a large number of detailed but unimportant questions and insisting that they are all fully answered;
lodging a number of complaints in batches over a period of time, resulting in related complaints being at differing stages of the complaints procedure;
pressing for further investigation of matters that have already been addressed;
electronically recording meetings and conversations without the prior knowledge and consent of the other persons involved;
using obscene, racist, offensive or threatening language in written or verbal communications;
threatening or aggressive or abusive behaviour in direct personal contacts with staff;
using the vehicle of valid new complaints to resurrect issues which were included in previous complaints; and/or
persistently sending communications which demand responses, or making telephone calls seeking interview with staff, after the school has closed the investigation into a complaint and all rights of review and appeal have been exhausted.
Any complainants demonstrating such behaviour will be given an opportunity to modify their behaviour before correspondence is closed. Correspondence received from the complainant subsequent to closure will be kept on file, indefinitely, as will notes of telephone calls and any further personal calls referring to the matter.